Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was received with full honors at the royal palace in Bahrain's capital of Manana on Tuesday, with Israel's national anthem playing in the background.
Shortly after arriving at the royal palace, Bennett held a private meeting with Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman Bin Hamad al Khalifa before their teams convened for a working session to be followed by a luncheon. The prime minister is scheduled to meet King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa later in the day.
Earlier on Tuesday, Bennett met with Bahraini cabinet ministers to discuss cooperation in various fields including economy, innovation and technology.
He also met with representatives of the local Jewish community.
The local Al Ayam newspaper published an interview with Bennett on Tuesday, in which he said that Iran was intent on destroying moderate governments and replacing them with terrorists.
"We are aimed at achieving a warm peace with Bahrain. Both our peoples will see the benefits of such relations," Bennett said.
"I see Israel and Bahrain as close partners in all aspects, such cooperation between us is natural. I expect our mutual commerce to grow, and of course when the COVID pandemic ends, I hope the people of Israel and the people of Bahrain learn more about each other through cultural and other means," Bennett told the newspaper.
"Both our countries are faced with great security challenges originating from Iran, which is destabilizing the entire region," Bennett said. "We will assist our friends in strengthening peace security and stability."
Bennett told the paper that U.S. President Joe Biden is a true friend to Israel and understands its security needs. "We think a return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran would be a strategic error because it would allow Tehran to preserve its nuclear capabilities and still receive billions to finance its terror machine," he said.
Israel has not formally confirmed the appointment. Fleet chief Vice Admiral Brad Cooper met Bennett on Tuesday, with Bennett telling Cooper he expected "the cooperation among the region's countries and powerful ally the United States will keep getting closer," Bennett's office said.
First published: 13:05, 02.15.22